Environment and Innovation Editor
Young African computer students strongly feel that Africa is ripe for the booming global mobile gaming industry, which generated more than US$159.3 billion in revenue in 2020 with 48 percent from mobile gaming and 52 percent from PC and console gaming.
“We cannot afford to miss this boat any longer. I believe as a young Zimbabwean and a proud African that we should take the global mobile gaming industry and step by step aim to get a piece of the huge amount of revenue generated in the industry,” said Harmony Murombo, a 22-year-old computer hardware engineering student at the University of Zimbabwe.
Harmony designed an Android game called Harmony3DGame. The game is a mobile game that he designed from scratch using python and blender.
“The game is basically about a ball that collects coins and must avoid being hit by moving golden enemies; if the player manages to collect all the coins he goes to the next level,” he said.
“The purpose of the game I designed is to solve the problem of compatibility and also solve the problem of centralization because the software is compatible with all operating systems such as Windows, Linux, MacOS, and Android and can be played online.
“This game has several benefits. It teaches problem-solving skills, and encourages interest in our history and culture in Zimbabwe or Africa. In addition, the game also helps children make friends and improve their social skills.I also want my games to bring parents and children together.
In the late 2000s, most African countries did not experience the PC era and found themselves in the era of mobile computing.
Today, slowly but surely, the African gaming industry is also moving into mobile gaming with many opportunities and possibilities for the continent’s young innovators.
“With the fastest growing youth population and rapid adoption of mobile smart phones across the continent, one could argue that Africa is ripe for a booming mobile gaming industry. But in fact, it is still in its infancy. In 2018, the market was worth $570 million. Today, African game developers face various structural problems, including slow, unreliable, and expensive connections to internet,” said a computer game analyst.
Harmony’s game innovation was selected to be showcased at the UZ Research Innovation and Industrialization Week.
The event was held under the theme: “University of Zimbabwe: Actualization of a research-innovation-industrialization ecosystem model for Zimbabwe’s economic development.”
“I dream big and I hope to commercialize the game soon. I want it to be deployed on the Google Play Store where people can download it and advertise it using different advertising platforms from to Google, or sell it to interested companies like Econet. The game’s target market is children,” said Harmony.
“Since there are no companies in Zimbabwe developing games, I hope to create my own company that trains people on how to develop them. This will create jobs for our fellow Zimbabweans and also help the implementation of online game development courses at the University of Zimbabwe.
“Currently there is no such course in the country. I hope to be part of a crop of innovative and brave young Zimbabwean innovators who are creating virtual reality based games from scratch to some major gaming giants in the near future. .
Most African youths love to play games on their devices, but none of these games are African. African countries spend millions of dollars using games developed in the West that are largely influenced by European and American culture.
However, there is an increasing crop of computer science graduates in Africa who are now pushing for a change – using local languages and cultures to process games.
Many have now combined to play using African languages such as Swahili, Shona, Zulu and Xhosa among others.
Breaking into the global gaming industry is not for the faint of heart.
“Looking at it from an African perspective, I think it’s something that’s just starting. It’s only been a few years since the tech boom started in Africa, so most people are building back -end apps and create mobile apps for businesses,” said Brighton Mukorera, Lead Engineer at Neno in an online report about the shift to game development, the state of the mobile gaming industry in Africa , and his thoughts on tech in Zimbabwe.
“People don’t venture into the playground because there’s no guarantee you’ll make money. It’s easier to get jobs if you say you’re a Java developer or a C# developer building apps for businesses. So that most people in the game do it on their own time.
“Maybe there are one or two companies in Zimbabwe that are playing. It’s not common here yet because even though Africans spend a lot of time on their mobile phones, other factors like internet availability and the cost on the internet can prevent you from monetizing.
“Although this is a risky area, it has a lot of potential. In the next five years, as more people are connected and the internet becomes cheaper, the market will grow. So it’s best to start preparing for at that time now, so when we get to that point, we already have things, and we don’t have to start from zero.